The Kansas City Kansas Public School District introduced its fleet of 47 new compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered rear-engine Thomas Built HDX buses to school transportation professionals from around the country at a mid-March event. An audience of about 500 guests rode the buses and toured the time-fill facility, both of which were funded by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, matching funds from Kansas City Kansas Public Schools and a financing package created by Daimler Truck Financial (DTF).
It’s been a very smooth transition with few hassles,” said George Taylor, director of transportation for the school district. “Gas comes straight from the street, with no storage at all. It’s piped straight to 35 time-fill dispensers with dual hoses, allowing each station to fuel two buses at a time. The time-fill arrangement lets buses fill up overnight without any staff, saving time and money. With curbside access to fuel, drivers just hook up their buses at the end of the day and in the morning the buses are fueled and ready to go.”
Although Taylor hasn’t yet received his first gas or electricity bill for the new buses, at $1.19 a gallon for natural gas and $3.29 a gallon for diesel, he’s sure he’s saving more money than you can shake a stick at.” Taylor added that “The buses are environmentally-friendly and the low fuel costs let me cut my budget and contribute more to educating children.”
Taylor reported that drivers love the new buses, especially the greater visibility and improved turning radius. “And these buses will do better in winter than the ones we took out of service because the rear engines provide more weight and better traction in slippery conditions,” he concluded.
The school district purchased the buses through Midwest Bus Sales, the Thomas Built Buses dealer for Kansas, Oklahoma, western Missouri and Illinois. Daimler Truck Financial worked closely with Midwest Bus Sales to ensure that the customer was aware of all of the potential options and financial solutions DTF had to offer. DTF can help customers make decisions that allow them to reduce the average age of their fleet, minimize their maintenance costs and add new green technology buses.